Last week’s haul of chokecherry berries are now turned into juice concentrate. I have a few more trays of leaves to crush, as well as other dried herbs to crush too. Two yard waste bags of twigs and such were picked up by the yard waste pickup service this morning, and after a garbage run that included enough recycling I had to hold one bag in my hand (normally it all fits into the grocery cart), the courtyard looks a tiny bit tidier! Blue spruce bows I’d brought home last week are losing their needles already, so those need catching into paper yard bags, then broken off the branches and into larger tubs. We won’t be lacking for spruce needles this year!!! A branch we forgot about has gone mostly brown, which won’t do us any good. I’ll have to toss most of that one, and I think that one’s fir.
Our freezer is quite full now, which is both a blessing and a problem. A solid third of it is filled with meat, and originally, that was by design in case stores went sideways on us. But now it’s getting in the way of space to put harvest that needs freezing. I’m not set up for canning, and we are seriously having to get creative with where we put dried goods this year (another happy problem) and harvest season isn’t even close to being done! We aren’t even half-way through berry season yet, and then there’s the fall harvest which includes a trip back to the Lumby property because they offered us their hard fruits when they ripen, and hazelnuts as well. We expect to come home with more goldenrod, elecampagne, comfrey, and potentially more lemonbalm too. So I need to get current harvest efforts tidied up before then. . . Maybe that can happen tomorrow. . .
In addition, and partly due to the previous paragraph, we went looking for shelf-stable, non-canning methods to make syrup and discovered that the more sugar there is, the better. Bacteria like sugar, but it turns out even too much of a good thing for them is bad and actually kills them! No, this doesn’t generally happen inside the human body, but it is interesting to learn outside the human body. So the logic goes, and this is from as far back as the 1600’s if not earlier, that at least double the sugar to liquid ratio will keep your syrup anywhere from 6 months to indefinitely. One of the ways to ensure that distance is what they call “hot pouring”, where you take the liquid from the boiled pot straight into waiting jars. Of course this means you warmed up the jars while boiling the syrup, so that they don’t shatter on you. A third way to ensure longevity, is to put the lids on tight, then turn them up side down for 2 minutes. The logic for this is that a vacuum is created that bacteria have trouble living in.
So today I took one quart jar, and two of the small 250ml jars, and a pot. I measured to the bottom of the twist line with juice concentrate in one jar, and then used the dry jar to measure out the same amount of sugar (or more) into the pot for every matching jar of juice I put in. Turns out there are 4 250ml jars inside one quart jar! That meant I’d need 8 250ml jars when the task was done, and when I finished the boiling and hot-poured into the 8 jars, tightening their lids and inverting them, I was left with a bit left over.
My daughter came home for lunch, and I poured the leftover bit into a small container. She’s been fighting sinusitis since the last major bout of smoke rolled into the valley and is finally on the mend a week later (just in time for more smoke to sock us in!!!). She took a finger full of the syrup and felt it acting on her sinuses right away. After lunch, she took the little container with her to work and came home from work not sounding any worse for wear. Considering the juice concentrate was not watered down by any additional water such as we do for chokecherry lemonade, the syrup is full strength.
Tomorrow I have more jars to turn into syrup. Pulling a bag of perogies out of the freezer meant one of the 3 jars from the earlier batch today could be put in, but that still means up to 4 more jars of concentrate to make into syrup tomorrow. That means ending up with a potential of 24 small jars of syrup, and I have baking to do too. The last batch of flatbread lost half its count to mold! Ugh! Those went bad really fast! Hopefully tomorrow’s batch won’t go bad before it’s eaten!